Vong’s Thai Kitchen
Fusion Thai Cuisine $$-$$$
Touting house-made curries, seafood pad thai’s, and infamously intoxicating cocktails, this is American-Thai made fancy restaurant has the price-tag to prove it! Our experience at VTK was a good one overall with great service, powerful (i.e. salty) flavors, and a pretty unique menu. Check it out for yourself!
We started off with some cocktails, which is uncommon for me because I’m weak-sauce and can ONLY do sugary cocktails that mask the flavor of the alcohol. Unfortunately, I ordered a ridiculously alcoholic cocktail that looked gorgeous and sounded yummy but just wasn’t palatable to me.
LYCHEE BOMB $8.25
LYCHEE BERRIES, PEAR INFUSED SAKE, THAI HERBS & SPICE
Flavor: Honestly, all you could taste were the herbs, spiciness, and alcohol – without the pear infusion. To be fair, this wasn’t like sipping on hard liquor, but this cocktail isn’t for the faint of heart. I ended up fishing out the “lychee berries” (i.e. canned lychee) and couldn’t take the combination of spiciness and burn of the sake after half a glass.
10 MANGOES $9.50
10 CANE RUM, MANGO PUREE, FRESH LIME, VANILLA
Flavor: You can definitely see some pulp pieces from the mango floating in the drink. It was refreshing, just sweet enough, and yes, quite alcoholic. However, the blend of flavors makes this a great tropical drink and the flavors are more complex than plain mango. MUCH better than the lychee bomb!
Daikon Radish Salad with Sesame Oil (Complimentary)
Flavor: Refreshing and crunchy, this is a lovely start of the meal but a tad on the greasy side.
CRUSTED SHRIMP SATAY $7.95
SWEET ‘N’ SOUR SAUCE
Flavor: The shrimp itself was crispy and the breading was light and flaky, kinda like panko-crusted breadcrumbs. The insides of the skewers were uniquely seasoned – you could definitely taste a hint of lemongrass which made the dish stand out. The biggest problem of this dish was how salty it was and for me, the film of lip grease after each bite.
TUNA SASHIMI ROLL $9.95
SASHIMI GRADE AHI TUNA, TAMAGO, SOYBEAN WRAPPER, SWEET WASABI SOY SAUCE
Flavor: The tuna was thick, fresh, and flavorful, while the Japanese tamago egg was slightly sweet and very fluffy and soft. The roll itself is really unique and was light and refreshing. Dipped in the soy sauce, there was the perfect amount of saltiness and sweetness from the ingredients. My only issue is that there were too few rolls!
TAMARIND GLAZED TILAPIA $17.95
BABY BOK CHOY, SNOW PEA, BELL PEPPER, SHIITAKE MUSHROOM, JASMINE RICE
Flavor: Unfortunately, we had this dish sent back because the thick coat of tamarind glaze, (which I have never had before) was SO tart that I couldn’t imagine eating more than two bites. The boyfriend agreed with how strong and pungent the flavor was and I sheepishly asked to switch for another dish. So much for being adventurous!!!
MISO-GLAZED SALMON $18.95
SHIITAKE MUSHROOM, CHINESE BROCCOLI, BLACK & WHITE RICE
Flavor: The fish was rich and well-coated with the sweet but slightly-too-salty miso glaze, so the rice was a necessary complement to the fish. The fish was slighly underdone as the center was still chewy and bright orange rather than flaky. The bed of vegetables were well-seasoned, but slightly too gingery while the mushrooms had an unexpectedly strong butter flavor. Overall a tasty dish but a little too salty and little raw.
VTK’S SIGNATURE SHRIMP AND CRAB PAD THAI $17.95
Peppers, Bean Sprouts, Peanuts, Eggs, Shallots, Scallions, Thai Basil, Garlic, Cilantro & Rice Noodles
Flavor: Both of us loved the dish. The generous amounts of shredded crabmeat, bits of sweet and savory shrimp were the perfect compliments to the slightly tangy flavor of the Pad Thai. The peanuts were finely diced and gave the dish a textural crunch and a change in flavor. The sauce was light, tangy and savory (you could definitely taste the fish sauce) and the noodles were well cooked not overly greasy (score!). Overall a really enjoyable dish that we’d order again. J
WARM PASSION FRUIT SOUFFLE $8.95
PASSION FRUIT ICE CREAM
Flavor: DANGGGG…YUM!!!!!!!!!!!! The soufflé was both tart and sweet, but was exactly what we were looking for after the heavier entrees. The top of the soufflé was crispy and easily cracked, while the inside was perfectly cooked so it was slightly raw, mushy, and liquid-like. With the ice-cream in the middle, the pairing was a great contrast of hot and cold, sweet and sour. A wonderful and unique end to our meal! I’d come back here just for another dessert.
Taste: 4 (Great fresh ingredients with solid spices and flavoring…just way overdone on quite a few dishes)
Originality: 4 (Where else can you find passion fruit souffle’s and a tuna wrapped with tamago??)
Value: 3 (The seafood dishes were definitely on the pricy-side, and the ambiance at the restaurant definitely didn’t justify for the price paid. However, this IS also downtown Chicago)
Service: 5 (Even with the dish exchange, our waiter was extremely kind and offered multiple solutions to make sure our dining experience was A-ok!)
FARMED or FRESH??
Since this is a meal full of sea creatures, here is Gourmet Magazine’s guide to buying and eating Seafood the Sustainable and HEALTHY way!
American catfish, trout, and tilapia: Farmed is an excellent choice for these species. Tilapia—which have come out of nowhere to become one of the five most-consumed fish in the country recently—are vegetarians, so they don’t require a diet of “feeder” fish the way carnivores do and are therefore a very sustainable choice. To avoid chemical contamination, choose fish farmed in the United States and steer away from ones raised in China.
Crabs: Recently the population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has plummeted. BUT Oregon and Washington Dungeness crabs are GREAT choices!
Lobster: Maine lobsters are a good choice! Also, if you see the MSC label, you know it’s sustainable.
Salmon: Avoid farmed varieties—even the “organic” kind, since that label, when applied to farmed salmon doesn’t mean anything. (There are no USDA standards for seafood to date.) Go for wild Alaskan salmon instead.
Scallops: Farmed is the best. Wild scallops are traditionally harvested by dredging the sea floor, which causes environmental damage, so “they are best avoided! And you should buy scallops labeled ‘dry’—otherwise they’ve been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate. The industry claims that it’s a preservative, but the real reason it’s used is that it causes the meaty tissue to absorb up to 50 percent of its weight in water. It’s the biggest case of consumer fraud in the seafood industry.”